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September 30, 2021

Future Cities trends: Internet of Things (IoT) leads Twitter mentions in Q2 2021

By GlobalData Technology

Verdict lists the top five terms tweeted on future cities in Q2 2021, based on data from GlobalData’s Influencer Platform.

The top tweeted terms are the trending industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. IoT – 5,226 mentions

The importance of analytics and visualisations for city governments, how smart cities can unlock the full potential of IoT, and the applications of IoT in smart cities and smart buildings were some of the trending discussions in Q2.

Kirk Borne, data scientist at DataPrime, an artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions provider, shared an article on the importance of analytics and visualisation for city governments. Government policymakers are required to collect and store data to ensure data privacy across organisations and to enable the provision of services that boost the economy. Public organisations are, therefore, using new technologies such as IoT, machine learning, and embedding analytics to evaluate traffic and gather real-time data from public infrastructure.

The article stated the example of Buenos Aires, which deployed IoT to deal with a chronic flooding problem. The city placed sensors on 30,000 drains to measure the direction, speed, and level of water. The data collected by the sensors was analysed to accurately forecast flooding and issue alerts to citizens.

In another tweet, Mike de Waal, CEO of Global IQX, an insurance procurement technology platform, shared an article on how IoT can help cities in achieving goals such as sustainability, enhancing the urban landscape, and building better quality of life. The article stated three steps that smart cities need to take to unlock the full potential of IoT to achieve the goals. Firstly, cities need to select a standard IoT platform that can enable interoperability. Secondly, there should be consensus and early participation from all the stakeholders involved in the deployment of IoT. Lastly, cities should promote the adoption of IoT solutions to effectively deploy smart city solutions by offering funding, training, and subsidies to those who are developing the solutions.

Another discussion on IoT was shared by Andreas Staub, head of corporate development and digital transformation at Raiffeisen Switzerland, a retail bank, on the applications of IoT in smart cities and smart buildings. IoT in smart cities, for example, enables remote monitoring of infrastructure and processes such as smart grid and smart water solutions. IoT can also be used to optimise smart buildings and improve facilities management. It can, for example, be used to optimise space allocation in smart buildings, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, the article added.

2. Cybersecurity – 3,060 mentions

The cyber security risks associated with smart city technologies, the need to secure smart cities against cyberattacks, and the data privacy concerns in smart cities were some of the trending discussions in the last quarter.

Glen Gilmore, principal at Gilmore Business Network, a digital marketing and digital transformation firm, shared an article on the cybersecurity risks related to smart city technologies. A new report by scholars from the University of California, titled The Cybersecurity Risks of Smart City Technologies: What Do The Experts Think?, aims to help policymakers in understanding the risks of smart city technologies.

The report analyses a survey in which 76 cybersecurity experts graded various technologies used in smart cities according to their technical vulnerabilities. The report concluded that emergency alerts, street video surveillance, and smart traffic signals were found to be riskier than other technologies. It also highlighted that experts should evaluate the cybersecurity risks associated with the technologies and the potential impact of cyberattacks on city infrastructure. Cyberattacks, for example, could disrupt vital services such as electricity and water.

Bob Carver, principal cybersecurity threat intelligence and analytics at telecom company Verizon shared an article on smart cities being vulnerable to cyberattacks. IoT-connected technologies of smart cities collect and store a huge volume of sensitive data and are prone to malicious hackers and cyberattacks, according to a warning issued by National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the cyber branch of intelligence agency of the UK government.

NCSC has detailed a series of principles that need to be ensured to guarantee the highest level of cybersecurity in cities. Local authorities need to fully understand the flow of the data to understand how the IoT connectivity would appear and be prepared to tackle any data breaches. They also need to learn to identify potential threats to a connected place and always connect from trusted and reputable vendors, the article detailed.

Cybersecurity was also discussed by Michael Fisher, senior systems analyst at Whitcraft Group, an aerospace parts manufacturer, in an infographic on the privacy concerns surrounding smart cities. Smart cities utilise a large amount of data generated through a network of IoT-powered technologies to create innovative services. Privacy concerns and breach of sensitive data, however, are major concerns in such cities.

Majority of the infrastructure ranging from trash cans to traffic controls are installed with location beacons, automated sensors, and environmental sensors. The interconnectivity of all the infrastructure also presents the risk of unnecessary surveillance, unauthorised use of private data, and data being obtained by third-party sources to use for their benefit, according to the infographic.

3. Artificial intelligence (AI) – 2,444 mentions

Wait time at traffic lights reduced by AI-powered system, the use of AI in autonomous vehicles (AVs), and a smart city being developed in Japan were some of the discussions on AI that trended on Twitter in Q2 2021.

Ronald van Loon, director at Advertisement, a data and analytics consultancy firm, shared an article on an AI-powered traffic control system that can reduce the wait time at traffic lights. Developed by tech start-up NoTraffic, the cloud and AI-based traffic control system can halve the rush-hour time, decrease transportation budget by 70%, and reduce carbon emissions in dense urban areas.

The sensors of the system analyse the traffic at each intersection and adjust the light timing and traffic flow on the cloud. It prioritises commuting patterns and emergency traffic to allocate green time ensuring zero wastage of time and energy. The installation cost of these systems per intersection is nearly equal to the cost of maintaining and repairing traditional inductive loops and cameras every five years. The NoTraffic system claims to last longer than traditional systems and can be upgraded over the air resulting in a 70% cost reduction.

In another discussion, Guidaautonoma, a blog focused on AVs, shared an article on how AI has proliferated through various services such as navigation systems and chat bots. The article detailed that the economy needs innovative AI-enabled products and services. AI, for example, offers support to various functions of AVs including processing of data collected by sensors and improving vehicle safety. The increased adoption of such AI-powered AVs can bring about a range of benefits for urban and suburban environments. Being more fuel-efficient than cars driven by humans, AVs can help reduce carbon emissions and transportation costs.

Evan Kirstel, co-founder of eVira Health, a social media partner for the healthcare sector, shared a video on a smart city being developed by Japan, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and solar energy. The city is being developed by Toyota on the site of an old factory near Tokyo, which will eventually house approximately 2,000 people. Houses in the futuristic city will be made of wood to reduce the carbon footprint. The city will be used as a living lab to test self-driving cars, robots, and other technologies. It will include AI-powered sensors to monitor the health of people and use robots to assist the elderly in daily activities.

4. Autonomous vehicles – 1,390 mentions

The effect of competition between AVs and public transit in cities in the future, autonomous vehicles changing the future of work, and AV developments in the US were some of the discussions on AVs in the last quarter.

Antonio Vieira Santos, social media business evangelist at information technology company Atos shared an article on how the competition between AVs and public transit will impact the latter in the future. A case study conducted by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology used game theory to analyse the competition between autonomous mobility on demand (AMoD) and public transit. The study was based on a simulation where both the operators were profit-oriented and dynamically adjustable.

The study concluded that the competition between the two can be a positive factor influencing profits and system efficiency on AMoD, public transit, and transport authorities. The impact on the passengers, however, was found to be uneven requiring authorities to provide support to passengers who are impacted by high travel costs or longer travel times.

In another tweet, Glen Gilmore shared a video on how AVs are changing the future of travel and work. Volvo is developing a self-driving car that presents itself as a room on wheels. The combustion engine and steering wheel have been removed from the vehicle to create a modular interior that can be personalised by users. The car can also project information and documents on the window, enabling smooth workflow during travel.

AVs were also discussed in an article shared by Guidaautonoma on the status of development of AVs in the US. AVs were expected to be launched by 2020, but the progress has been sluggish. Testing centres have been set up in several cities, but full-scale adoption remains slow. Nuro, a robotics company, is the first company to receive a permit to deploy AVs on the streets from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The permit allows the company to deploy small vehicles designed to carry packages.

Several cities have made it legal for such vehicles to share public streets with people. The issue of liability and insurance in case an AV is involved in an accident still needs to be addressed, the article highlighted.

5. Robotics – 1,377 mentions

A robot that can perform household chores, virtual reality (VR)-powered robots that can stock shelves in stores, and drone deliveries being approved in the US were some of the major discussions around robotics in Q2.

Mike de Waal shared an article on a robot that can perform household chores. Developed by Toyota Research Institute (TRI), the robot is trained to operate in home environments and navigate through the complex spaces within houses. Toyota used large quantities of synthetic data to train the robot enabling it to identify objects and surfaces with precision and operate efficiently in homes. The technology used in the robots is expected to pave the way for better projects that can contribute to society, according to the article.

Harold Sinnott, a tech influencer and digital consultant, shared a video of a robot named Model T, which is designed to stack shelves at stores and operated remotely by VR. Developed by Japanese robotics firm Telexistence, the robot is being tested at FamilyMart, a chain of convenience stores. The robot can automate restocking tasks in supermarkets and enable stores to operate with fewer workers.

In another tweet related to robotics, Robert van Loon shared a video on Google spin-off Wing becoming the first company to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for delivering through drones. The drone developed by Wing takes off vertically and flies horizontally at high speeds carrying packages. The package is lowered at the destination through a tether, while the drone stays in the air. Wing is expected to soon start the delivery of small items in two rural Virginia communities, as regulations prevent drones from operating in crowded areas.